Six Shell to Sea Campaigners convicted as community block Shell's haulage in Mayo


In Belmullet district court on Monday 20th February, 6 campaigners were convicted of a total of 13 charges between them with fines totaling 3,035  euros. While this went on, local residents blocked Shell's haulage route  between Bellanaboy refinery and the compound in Glengad.

Monday was the beginning of a week-long special sitting for anyone arrested in the last year for protesting against Shell's Corrib Gas project. Yesterday 6 out of 19 people's cases were heard, and all 6 were convicted of every charge they faced. A bench warrent was issued for one person who was unable to attend court. So 12 people are left to be heard, some of them with 4 or 5 cases each.

Around 1pm a group of local residents decided to block the haulage route to Glengad, and were thrown off the road by Gardaí. The usual camera person Terence Conway was up in court in Belmullet, so the Gardaí took advantage of the lack of cameras and were fairly rough with people. One woman was thrown into a ditch, and another had her breast pinched by a garda.

The last special sitting dealing with campaigners against Corrib resulted in 24 of 27 people being acquitted. So far this week, the Judge has not accepted any of the defense arguments.

At one stage when one defendant questioned the level of force that had been used on the protesters, Superintendent Patrick Diskin responded that "Public order situations are never pretty. pushing and shoving sometimes has to happen to ensure people don't get hurt."

Gardaí refused to arrest local people on the roads on Monday, instead using brute force. Yet they are happy to criminalise outside supporters in their effort to further isolate the community of Erris.

Stay tuned this week on and twitter to find out what happens with the rest of the cases.

Residents take to the roads this week as solidarity campaigners face conviction
Gardaí refuse to arrest locals opposing the project while supporters prosecuted.

Residents of Kilcommon Parish in North Mayo opposed to the Corrib gas project are taking to the roads this week in protest against how their supporters are being criminalised in Belmullet district court.

Yesterday marked the beginning of a week-long special sitting of Belmullet district court to hear the cases of 19 campaigners facing 80 charges arising from protest against the Corrib gas project. On the first day the cases of six campaigners from the Rossport Solidarity Camp were heard. All were convicted on each charge and received fines totalling €3035. So far today one campaigner received fines totalling €850 and a 2 month jail sentence suspended for one year. He had no previous convictions.

As the solidarity campaigners were prosecuted, locals walking the roads received different treatment. When a convoy of lorries moved along the road from Shell’s new compound at Glengad people were pushed and shoved into ditches by Gardaí.

Aghoos resident Gerry O’Malley said, “We went on the walk in solidarity with our friends from the camp, but the Gardaí came along and pushed us off the road.”

Despite repeated threats of arrest from Gardaí, no one was arrested during the walk.

Rossport resident Mary Corduff said, “I did nothing to block any lorries but was physically stopped by Gardaí from walking back the road to Glengad. My husband Willie was threatened with arrest, but as soon as the convoy had passed the Gardaí went back to their vans."

She continued, ”We all need to use these roads, but if it doesn’t suit Shell we won’t be allowed to”.

The walk took place on the L1202 between Pullathomas and Glengad. This is the third week that Shell’s use of this road for haulage has been prioritised over the needs of the local people.

Roisin ni Fhaolain of the Rossport Solidarity camp said, “Again we are inspired by the actions of those who grew up here and their assertion of their right to a safe and peaceful community. The state strategy of trying to deter support and isolate the local community will not work.”